Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu damaged Israel’s strategic position in stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan said in Friday’s Yediot Aharonot.
Dagan is the central speaker at a rally against the prime minister called “Israel Wants Change” planned for March 7 in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, organized by get-out-thevote organization “A Million Hands” and other nongovernmental organizations. The invitation to the event quotes him as saying this is a critical time for Israel’s future and security and that Netanyahu’s policies are destructive.
According to Dagan, Israel managed to convince many countries to stop cooperating with Tehran’s nuclear project and stop selling them dualuse products, referring to anything that can have a potential military application. He pointed out that sanctions against Iran began in 2003, because of Israel’s influence.
However, Dagan said, Netanyahu turned Iran into an Israeli problem, and countries have begun to see themselves as not responsible for stopping Iran, because Israel will take care of it.
“The person who brought the greatest strategic harm to Israel on the Iranian issue is the prime minister,” he posited.
As for why Netanyahu did not use military force against Iran, he said all of the security chiefs opposed it and the prime minister did not want to take the responsibility on himself.
“I never saw him take responsibility for something,” he said.
The former Mossad chief is skeptical about Netanyahu’s speech to both houses of Congress, planned for next week.
“He didn’t discuss his speech with [security] professionals.
Maybe he talked to political advisers. What will Netanyahu get out of this trip? I can’t understand it. What is he aiming for, applause? The trip will fail,” he stated.
“An Israeli prime minister who clashes with an American president needs to ask himself what the risks are,” Dagan said. “The Americans hold the [UN Security Council] veto umbrella over us, and if there is a clash, the umbrella could disappear. Within a short time, Israel will find itself facing international sanctions. The dangers of this clash are intolerable.”
Meanwhile, on Saturday night, the Likud released a campaign video comparing Netanyahu’s speech to former prime minister Levi Eshkol embarking on the Six Day War.
“[In] 1967 the Arab armies threatened the very existence of the State of Israel,” the clip began. “The White House objected strongly [to preemptive action]. Levi Eshkol ordered the strike, against the Administration’s position.”
“Would we still be here today if Levi Eshkol had not done the right thing?” the video asked. “Only Likud.
On Thursday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein wrote an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times supporting the speech.
“Imagine for a moment that your neighbor down the street was engaged in some basement science that could level your house and even kill you, if he so desired. Your best friend, who happens to live some distance away, out of harm’s reach, can end the threat to your life and property but is now trying to legalize your neighbor’s dangerous work. What would you do?” Edelstein asked, comparing the situation to the one in which Netanyahu has found himself.
According to Edelstein, there has been “so much talk of protocol and partisanship that we seem to have lost the forest for the trees,” because Iran is clearly pursuing nuclear weapons “thumbing its nose at efforts to monitor its progress,” and it “has never hidden its hatred for Israel or its desire to expunge it from the historical record.”
He called the P5+1 group of world powers’ – US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany – negotiations with Iran a historic opportunity to dismantle Tehran’s nuclear program, but that the agreement taking shape will not do that, rather, it will reward Iran, despite its not being forthcoming during the talks.
Edelstein said Netanyahu is doing what any responsible leader would do by turning to Israel’s friends, the government and people of the US, and as Knesset Speaker, he wrote that he believes the legislature is the most appropriate place to do so.
“To address the American public, no venue – no conference or news show – can substitute for a joint session of Congress, where every group, every state and every citizen is duly represented,” he explained.
In addition, he said Congressional support for Israel is bipartisan, and that he has spoken to legislators in recent weeks who reconfirmed their commitment to Israel’s security, seeing Netanyahu’s speech as presenting “an important viewpoint that can make a positive contribution to a matter of global importance.”
“The speech,” he wrote, “is not just about Iran’s nuclear race and it is not just about Israel. It is about whether we, as free people committed to democratic ideals, are still capable of standing together and resisting the temptation to compromise and appease our foes. With an agreement due within the month, we must rally together now to fight this evil in all its guises.”